The Foundation contributed a grant in 2019 to support the area’s first Oxford House, a residence for those recovering from addiction. The full article may be read at this link fauquier.com or below.
Written by Robin Earl
Published December 26, 2019 in the Fauquier Times.
As of the first of the year, the region covered by the Rappahannock-Rapidan Community Services Board will have its first Oxford House. Jim LaGraffe, executive director of the RRCSB, said an Oxford House is a resident-run sober living house. There are 2,754 of the residences in the U.S. – 13 in Winchester alone – but none in Fauquier, Culpeper, Orange, Madison or Rappahannock, until now.
Through donations from the PATH Foundation and the Culpeper Wellness Foundation, the RRCSB was able to purchase a home in Culpeper, which it will lease to the Oxford House. It will provide housing for seven men as they continue their recovery from alcohol or drug abuse.
LaGraffe emphasized that peer-led recovery is evidence–based. He said, “Peer-supported recovery is very effective. Such a supportive environment, with people who understand what you’ve gone through, with those who committed to a sober lifestyle, leads to a greater likelihood for maintaining sobriety.”
Oxford House has men-only homes, women-only homes and homes for women with children. LaGraffe said that in Culpeper, the greatest need was for a home for men.
No staff will live at the home, but Oxford House resources are available to its residents. He said that the residents will have help in setting up the house, with deciding how they want to handle the sharing of expenses and the upkeep of the home. “The Oxford staff has regional staff who can provide support,” said LaGraffe.
After an Oxford house is established, the residents decide together if someone has to be asked to leave and when to accept someone new into the house. All residents must be employed and must agree to remain sober and pay the collective expenses – heat and water and sewer, for instance.
The Culpeper house is located within walking distance of services and public transportation.
Recovery treatment is not a requirement for admission, but some residents seek treatment while they are living there.
Sean Polster, Warrenton Town Council member (at large) and president of Piedmont CRUSH (a 100-member group working to help fight drug addiction and help those who are recovering from addiction), said that his organization would like to “help create opportunities for job training, maybe an apprenticeship program,” for Oxford House residents.
The news about the Culpeper home was announced at the CRUSH holiday meeting Dec. 5 and was viewed as an important accomplishment. “If people don’t have a place to go when they get out … they go right back doing what they did before,” said Polster. He said the project included many different organizations. “So many people have their fingerprints on this.”
Finding an appropriate property in the RRCSB region has been difficult, said LaGraffe. “The Oxford House doesn’t own the houses under its umbrella; they look for long-term leases, which can be difficult to obtain.” He added that no special zoning or permits are required. According to a Supreme Court decision under the American Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act, “these are seen as single-family units.”
He added, “It’s not a hugely burdensome process because it is not a licensed home. It’s not that hard if you find a willing homeowner to lease or gift a house.”
Admission to an Oxford House is obtained through recommendations of RRCSB case managers, who identify people who would be a good fit.
“The Oxford House regional coordinator works with the case management team,” said LaGraffe. “I believe we are actively engaged with people who will be in the (Culpeper home) group.”
Polster said CRUSH members would very much like to have an Oxford House in Fauquier. He said, though, that a Fauquier resident would be eligible to live in a house in another county; it might even be beneficial.
LaGraffe added, “It can be helpful not to return to the same environment you left when you were struggling.” But, he added, “if people have to leave their community, that means they are leaving the good stuff behind, too.” Some people, for instance, don’t want to leave the community where their children are.
LaGraffe said, “I’ve had groups talk about bringing an Oxford House to Fauquier. It is our organizational hope that will have more of them. We need more of them. We’d like to use the Oxford House in Culpeper as a seed for further houses.”